ARA buys Seoul office tower for $1.2 billion

Parc1 Tower II is the fifth-tallest office building in Seoul. PHOTO: ARA

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - ARA Asset Management has purchased Parc1 Tower II - an office building in Seoul - for over one trillion Korean won ($1.21 billion), in a deal slated to be the largest single asset transaction in Korea this year.

Located within Yeouido business district, the property is one of the two newly-constructed office towers within the Parc1 mixed-use complex designed by architect Richard Rogers, ARA said in a press statement on Tuesday (Nov 10).

Currently the fifth-tallest office building in Seoul, it comprises 53 storeys and has a gross floor area of 162,216 square metres. The development is adjacent to Yeouido Park and Han River Park and is easily accessible from all major locations in the city via public transport, ARA noted.

In addition, Parc1 has eco-friendly and energy-saving systems. These include charging spots for electric cars, the use of green energy such as geothermal energy, combined heat and power plants, fuel cells and solar power to minimise the building's carbon footprint, ARA said. It added that the tower is built to withstand up to a magnitude-seven earthquake and strong wind speeds of up to 70 metres per second, among other features.

Anthony Kang, chief executive of ARA Korea, said the group expects "strong leasing demand" for the property, given its prime location, and with Korean securities firm NH Investments and Securities pre-committing to more than one-third of the tower's gross lettable area.

ARA Korea has been appointed the sole asset manager of Parc1 Tower II.

Separately, ARA and British property group Chelsfield on Wednesday said they have bagged a $385.8 million green loan from DBS and UOB to finance the acquisition and asset enhancement of 5One Central, formerly known as Manulife Centre in Singapore.

In January last year, ARA and Chelsfield jointly acquired the property at 51 Bras Basah Road for around $555.5 million.

The 11-storey commercial building is a 50:50 joint venture between ARA and Chelsfield. Spanning across 241,000 square feet (sq ft), the building comprises a ground floor retail podium and office floor plates of at least 23,000 sq ft. It is expected to receive the Green Mark Platinum certification awarded by Singapore's Building and Construction Authority once the asset enhancement is completed in the second half of 2021, ARA and Chelsfield noted.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, both firms said they are undertaking several asset-enhancement initiatives to improve the property's environmental footprint. For example, the newly-introduced vertical and horizontal fins enhance the building's facade, while providing shade to diminish the building's solar heat gain. This ultimately reduces its cooling load and energy consumption, ARA and Chelsfield said.

Said Nick Loup, group vice-chairman and chief executive at Chelsfield Asia: "In this major repositioning, we have been able to improve significantly the environmental performance of the building, while refreshing the design to create a contemporary setting that appeals to the dynamic technology and creative industries."

Upon completion of the asset-enhancement initiatives, 5One Central will have several green features, including CO2 sensors to regulate fresh air supply, occupancy sensors to optimise lighting usage, paper and plastic recycling facilities, as well as an electric vehicle charging facility. Taken together, the energy conservation initiatives are expected to cut energy consumption by half, the firms added.

Chew Chong Lim, managing director & global head of real estate, institutional banking at DBS, said sustainable financing in the real estate sector is continuing to gain traction in Singapore and Asia in a post-Covid-19 environment, and that the bank will continue to forge more of such collaborations.

Lim Lay Wah, group head of UOB's global financial institutions group, said Singapore's highly built-up environment means that there is a large stock of existing buildings that can be retrofitted to become more green and sustainable.

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